Characterization of B cells in healthy pregnant women from late pregnancy to post-partum: a prospective observational study
Pregnancy is a unique immunologic state where a natural homeostasis exists between antigenically different tissues. Several earlier studies have addressed the fluctuations in the number and/or function of lymphocytes, including B cells during pregnancy, but changes within the subsets of B lymphocytes, conventional (CD5-) and B-1 (CD5+), have not been addressed. Here we demonstrate that the frequency of B-1 cells decreases dramatically during pregnancy, whereas the frequency of conventional B cells remains relatively constant. The missing B-1 cells return to pre-pregnancy levels 8-10 weeks after parturition. The polyreactive autoantibodies secreted by B-1 cells have been implicated in autoimmunity and immune regulation. The possible role of B-1 cells during pregnancy will be discussed in that context.